South Jersey Field Reports
I've lived close to Southern New Jersey my entire life, but other than my first 6-7 years, when my great-grandparents had a summer place in Atlantic City during the pre-gambling era, I've spend very little time across the river other than driving through on my way to New York or other points up north.
But thanks to a couple articles in the local media in the past year or two, I started to become more away of the fairly large number of unheralded food stands and restaurants that fit in beautifully on this web site. I don't know how often I'll get over there, but I've decided to at least try to start making an effort to get to some of these places and I started today, with more on the way tomorrow. If I get to more places later this year or in subsequent years, I'll add them to this same thread.
The only place south of Central Jersey in the Roadfood guidebook is White House Subs. There are a handful of other South Jersey reviews on here, but it's largely overlooked in favor of Northern Jersey, with all of those hot dog places.
I started my exploration today with a place called Henri's Hotts on the Old Black Horse Pike in Folsom, NJ, which I mentioned on here fairly recently on a thread about New Jersey barbecue (they were on a list of NJ barbecue joints that I posted). I think I first became aware of Henri's when the restaurant critic at my paper mentioned it a couple times, with his focus being on their weekend buffet, when most of their menu is available on an all-you-can eat basis for a very good price. That's available for dinner Friday and all weekend. We got there too early for the buffet today, but we did get a nice sampling of food from the menu. Henri's is not strictly a barbecue place. They also have soul food, with fried chicken and fish as well as an array of sides. It almost a little like a cross between barbecue and meat and two.
Don't worry. They also have an indoor restroom.
They aren't kidding. The meal took about two hours. It was not fast dining. But I was with several retired friends and I had the day off, so we were in no hurry.
They have sports memorabilia all over the place.
It's tough to make them out in the above photo, but there are buffet tables with empty trays on the right side in the next room.
During the fairly long wait for our meals, we were given good squares of corn bread, which were moist and somewhat sweet.
One friend went with a salad, as he is staying down the shore and has dinner plans tonight. The other three of us decided to sample different things. So I ordered a rib platter, one friend ordered fried chicken and the third ordered brisket. We all had some of each.
I should have taken a better close-up shot of the brisket, which is the bottom of the three photos. We all agreed that the ribs were the best of the three. They were maybe a little more at the fall-off-the-bone stage than I prefer, but they had nice flavor and tender meat.
The fried chicken, while not as flavor packed as good fried chicken in the South, was still enjoyable. The brisket was inconsistent. It was sliced fairly thin. Some of the slices were dry, while others were very soft and had a nice, smoky, but not too smoky flavor. I enjoyed the baked beans very much. I tried a hush puppy and thought it was too dry.
Henri is a very nice man. He was our server and told us he lives in Philly and commutes there. I wouldn't hesitate to return to his restaurant, hopefully some time when the buffet is available.
One of the roadfood specialties of South Jersey is seasonal ice cream stands. There are a lot of them to choose from, many that offer what they call frozen custard. But they use the term interchangeably with soft serve.
As we made our way to the place I chose, which is closer to Philadelphia than Herni's, we passed by another place I have been thinking about going to for a while: Mr. Bill's in Hammonton, NJ. They are an interesting place. In addition to the roadside giant holding their sign in the parking lot, they have a menu that includes not only burgers, hot dogs, ice cream, and cheesesteaks, but they also have Jewish deli, and the photos I've seen of corned beef and pastrami sandwiches there look very good. I almost decided to go there for our meal today instead of Henri's. I would have sampled the deli and had ice cream. Maybe I'll get there later this year or next year.
The place we wound up going to was in Blackwood, NJ.
I decided to try lemon soft-serve with chocolate jimmies (aka sprinkles). I have to say I barely detected any lemon flavor. The texture was good; fairly dense for soft serve. But the flavor was relatively neutral. My friends had a cappuccino-chip cone and butter-pecan topped with crushed cherries (an interesting combination that would never occur to me).
That's it for today. I've got another place lined up for another part of South Jersey tomorrow.